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Progress of World's Coffee Industry
Between 1939 and 1988 the planted area under coffee in the world has gone up from 73300 hectares to 10200 thousand hectares. During the same period, production has increased from 2 million metric tones to 6 million tons. The coffee crop reached the all-time peak of 6 million metric tons in 1987-88. There has been a notable improvement in yields per hectare; the average yields actually obtained in 1988 being 384 kg. as against 248 kg. in 1939. There is, however, still a vast scope for a further significant improvement in productivity.
Despite ups and downs in the curve of coffee production a downward trend is conspicuous. This stems from the disease of industrial conservatism with the symptoms of soil exhaustion, shift in the plantation areas, ravages of STEPHANODERES, the development of other types of farming on the old coffee fazendas.
The countries of Latin America together supply much of the world's coffee. Colombia is easily the second with its production of 675,000 tones in 1980. El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico constitute important exporters. In quality no coffee exceeds that of Alta Vera Paz, in northern Guatemala. The Blue mountain coffee in Jamaica is also reputed for its quality.
Before the war, Indonesia ranked third to Brazil and Colombia with annual exports of 50,000 to 100,000 tons. The Japanese occupation of the islands nearly killed the trade for the time being, but there was a recovery to sixth largest producer by 1971 with 180,900 tons. In 1980 Indonesia produced 191,800 tones of coffee. Domination of the government plantations is replaced by the private plantations, contributing 80% of the Indonesian production.
Coffee plantation in Africa is also important. Much of this originates from the highlands of Eastern Africa and the remainder largely from the hilly areas in western Africa. In most of the areas, the development is rather recent. The leading producer in Africa is Ivory Coast, followed in order by Angola, Uganda, Ethiopia and Gabon. Africa however has the largest number of coffee producing countries. Suitable physical conditions, a fairly good native labour arid improved transport facilities encourage the development of coffee production in Africa.
World Trade. About 80 per cent of world's production is exported. Brazil, Colombia and Africa handle 25%, 14% and 25% respectively. Coffee exports accounted for more than 60% of the value of 1985 exports from Brazil and 68% from Colombia, Guatemala 70%, Nicaragua 60% El Salvador 80% and Angola 34%.
The principal coffee importing countries are U.S.A., France West Germany, Italy Belgium, Canada and Sweden. The United States of America took 46% of the world's coffee. West Germany and France took 9 and 8 per cent respectively. Europe consumes about 45%.
Coffee in India. The plant is believed to have been introduced in India by a pilgrim on his return from Mecca, and the pilgrim finally made his home in Karnataka. Some of the hilly areas of State, where coffee plantations are greatly developed today, are suffixed with is name, Babu Budan. Although the saint came to India over a hundred years ago, the commercial plantations did not start until 1840, the year in which the British planters initiated its culture on commercial basis. Now the plantations are distributed over the vast hilly tracts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala mainly in the sheltered eastern slopes of the Western Ghats.
Both the COFFEA ARABICA and COFFEA ROBUSTA are grown on commercial basis in India. The total area under coffee is the country in about 171,533 hectares. The Arabica coffee occupies 97,893 hectares as against 73,641 hectares under Robusta. Karnataka with 59% of the total area under coffee in the country holds the leadership followed by Kerala with 25%; Tamil Nadu 15%; the remainder 1% is shared by Andhra Pradesh Maharashtra, Orissa, Assam, West Bengal and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The coffee industry provides employment to 250,000 persons.
The production of coffee rose from 105 thousand metric tones in 1980-81 to 195 thousand metric tones is 1987-88. India with about 2.2 percent of world production can certainly earn valuable foreign exchange every year.